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Of A Coin
Wendy Alexander (University of Newcastle, Australia)

On my land
weather and time
exhume an arc of bronze,
on its face a Persian king.

On my land by Tanami
Persian currency has a tale to tell.

1860: Afghan traders trudge camels
into a sheet metal sky.
Padded hooves spin silk

through a seamless Hindu Kush,
down a treacherous moonscape
across oceans, to here,

where woven colours
drown in a desert winds;
madder, henna, indigo.

Here I sit and whinge
my sandy outpost,
like none have whinged before.

Now jolted, I sit
with metal pressing
a century and more through time.

Out here, alone,
displaced from its home,
sliced from its provenance.

At night, by satellite
I see Afghan faces
in a desert.
Is it my desert?

They are:
So alone, I lean close

and scrape my face
on a razor-wire ridgeline –
wraps their breath.
A man with hair in tendrils
passes manna through the fence
and runs to lie complicit,
a saltbush just one hide.

Frame by frame:
I lose my way
in the pits of sorrow
that stow below all eyes.

I see copper wire

I finger this coin
and shiver;
its metal edges
cutting the pink
from my fingertips.

Wendy is a postgrad in creative writing at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her poetry and short stories have won awards, and she is working on a novel of journey through 1890s Australia exploring the slippery relationship between time and travel and stories told / not told.

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